Spyhouse upgrades its coffee offerings

This coffee might look the same--until you taste it.

This coffee might look the same--until you taste it.

At first glance, the inky liquid being poured in your mug might look the same, but Spyhouse has upgraded its coffee service over the past few months to more closely resemble some of the other "third wave" shops in town, such as Kopplin's, Bull Run, and Angry Catfish.

Sure, you can still get your regular ol' drip, but cards stacked up on the counter display three other brewing methods--French press, Cafe Solo, and Hario pour-over--and flavor profiles for all their beans, roasted by Verve in Santa Cruz and a monthly guest roaster (in November it's St. Paul's Black Sheep).


Spyhouse owner Christian Johnson says he chose not to use the Clover, a highly calibrated single-cup brewer that was popularized a few years back by boutique coffee shops, because the company is now owned by Starbucks. (Starbucks uses the Clover in its stores and essentially took the machine off the market for purchase by other coffeehouses.) Spyhouse also chose to eschew syphon/vacuum machines, like those used at Bull Run, for example, because they're a bit fragile. "We would break all of them," he notes.

The Spyhouse baristas have been trained to explain the brewing methods and how the new "third wave" methods make coffee drinking a more wine-like coffee experience, where the subtler flavor characteristics of different beans and roasts are revealed. "The only second-wave thing we still do are 20-ounce cups," Johnson explains, "because we would like to offer something for everyone, and eliminating them after 10 years would upset a lot of customers."

The changes should help the Hennepin and Nicollet Avenue Spyhouses differentiate themselves from the more utilitarian shops nearby, such as Caffetto and Muddy Waters. (Somehow I can't quite picture the Caffetto staff swirling hearts into the cappuccino foam.)